Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best Comics of 2013 No. 15: The Mysterious Strangers

Well, here we go with another year-end countdown. I prefer to do these day by day rather than all at once, as most folks do.
First up, a book I was initially exposed to during Free Comic Book Day. Oni Press' The Mysterious Strangers is an era- specific pastiche: early 1960s superheroes, spies and rock & roll, in a nonstop action package.

Within the first three issues, we've had Mayan intrigue reminiscent of the pulps (early Doc Savage comes to mind here), a superpowered spy team (our title heroes), a not-so-thinly veiled Beatles  homage, and a very cool riff on my beloved Doctor Strange! There are hints of X-Files (and by extension, the X-Files' inspiration, Kolchak, the Night Stalker), coloring and art reminiscent of Ditko and Mike Allred courtesy of Scott Kowalchuk, and some terse if dated writing by Chris Roberson.
Yes, the whole thing is incredibly silly. And it isn't really about anything.
I don't care.
It's become fashionable for all (ahem) serious comics to be crawling with profundities and deep insights on the meaning of (fill in you pet message here). And  (cough) SERIOUS comic readers are expected to follow suit. But I see nothing wrong with well-crafted escapist fiction.
If that's not your cuppa, so be it. But life is plenty hard enough. While art and literature and cinema and comics and films (and on and on) do help to direct and inform our lives, there are plenty of times when you just need to take a break and take some comfort in a really wild, well-told story.You can parse anything for its deeper meanings and usually find some, but give it a break once in a while. The Mysterious Strangers is a really smart book that's a great getaway.
The sentiment is best summed up in this sequence from Scott McCloud's ZOT!

Tomorrow: Number 14, safe as houses!

No comments:

Post a Comment